Terramobile is a cultural & ecological public programme, leading Venetian citizens and international visitors on four one-of-a-kind lagoon explorations. Participants will be invited on intimate journeys in small Venetian "topette" (traditional Venetian boats) to encounter the aquatic environments and the local communities making up the Lagoon's socio-ecological systems past and present, and the people who imagine its futures by protecting this fragile territory through their practices and actions.

The Curatorial Concept

How to welcome stories in an amphibious, endlessly changing landscape like the Lagoon? Inspired by Paolo Barbaro's Ultime Isole (2022), the stories of engineers trying-to and failing-in measure this ever-shifting environment, Terramobile is an attempt to grasp Venice and its lagoon via its multiplicity and internal fragmentations: "one more sentence, one more word...". It will be the voice of a hydrological engineer, combined with the knowledges of artists and local citizens who patrol the lagoon, the internal canals of the city, the subsoils and sub-lagoons every day. It will be they who will lead the participants in the four explorations, finding affinities and divergences in the ways in which we understand the ecological and social complexities of these watery landscapes. 

From their observations, we will discuss the Lagoon's real-world problems but not limit them to fixed understandings as is common in the news or certain historical accounts. On the contrary, Terramobile will acknowledge the plurality of the Lagoon, real and discursive spaces in-between realities and desires, memories and expectations, descriptive acuity and universal transfiguration, sea and land, plant and fish.

The Programme

Sunday 28 May 2023, from 4 pm to 8 pm

Terramobile: of mud and salt
With Artist Collective Barena Bianca

Itinerary: Bacan Island - Lazzaretti Nuovi - Vignole Island

Of mud and salt is an invitation to reflect on the constitutive elements of the lagoon land and waterscape. How is the lagoon formed? What are its main components? What are its internal dynamics? Participants will be invited to observe the sandbanks that make up the lagoon’s landforms and be lured to step on its edges, immersing themselves in the ever-changing adaptive nature of this site. Guided by the artist collective Barena Bianca, this exploration will consider the inner composition and transformative quality of this environment as well as its incredible intricacy, to view the Lagoon as a place of both ecological and cultural significance.

Saturday 3 June 2023, from 8 pm to 11 pm

Terramobile: between moon and lagoon
With wetlands publishing project

Itinerary: Salt Marshes of the Northern Lagoon - Bacan Island - Sant’Andrea Fort

Between moon and lagoon is a journey set on a full moon night, exploring the Lagoon’s lights and shadows and reflecting on the vibrant relationships between ebbs and flows of the Lagoon’s tides and gravitational pulls of lunar cycles; focusing on the affinities between human communities and Lagoon environments. Starting from Paolo Barbaro’s Ultime Isole, the itinerary will be enriched with readings and interventions from the editors of wetlands, reflecting on the life and future of Venice and all those places that share its fragility and potential. The participants will journey on the Lagoon guided by moonlight and in the company of the tides.

Sunday 11 June 2023, from 4 pm to 8 pm

Terramobile: from marshes to gardens
With AtlantiDee Collective

Itinerary: Salt Marshes of the Northern Lagoon - Sant’Erasmo Island - Vignole Island

From marshes to gardens investigates the relationship between body and landscape, rediscovering plants, their healing properties, ecosystems and cultural role. The journey explores how Venetian citizens used and grew various plants in the past and how contemporary agro-ecological communities imagine their futures. From the Lagoon’s sandbanks, the so-called "gardens of the Lagoon'' where wild edible grows, the itinerary continues towards Sant'Erasmo, an island known as the "garden of Venice",  a centre of agricultural production; here, the participants will encounter the herbalists and storytellers of the AtlantiDee project, reflecting the reciprocated care between humans and plants. The exploration will end at the VERAS association in Vignole Island, known as the "garden of communities', furthering ways in which locals are creating educational programmes around horticulture and herbs knowledge.

Sunday 18 June 2023, from 4 pm to 8 pm

Terramobile: beyond anthropogenic extractivism
With Landscape Architect and PhD researcher Amina Chouaïri 

Itinerary: Ponte della Libertà - Porto Marghera - Cassa di Colmata A

Beyond anthropogenic extractivism is an exploration, reflecting on the lagoon’s morpho-ecological status after the twentieth century’s modernization and industrialization at all costs. We will explore the imprints of the past and the challenges of the present: poorly managed waste-water discharges, increased boat traffic, and shipping, organic and heavy metal pollution, radioactive sludge, invasive species, impeded tidal flushes, anoxia or dead-zones, as well as the increased salinity. What are the responses of local communities to these ecological declines? We will hear the voice of Landscape Architect and PhD researcher Amina Chouaïri, currently studying regenerative practices and local technologies developed by grassroots communities in the Venetian Lagoon. Passing through the Ponte della Libertà, one of the symbols of Venetian modernisation, and heading towards the dystopian landscape of Porto Marghera Casse di Colmata, the participants will explore the difficulties of this territory and the response-actions undertaken by local communities.

About the Team 

Terramobile is supported by Venice Design Biennial in partnership with Wigwam Venice Lab. 
The programme is curated by Chiara Famengo with Giovanni Cecconi. The graphic is by Lorenzo Rizzo Zenga.